5 Ways to Use Community Marketing for Your Book

Image: a Little Free Library box on a post near the edge of a lake in late autumn..
Photo by Claudio Carrozzo on Unsplash

Today’s post is by Amanda Miller of My Word Publishing (@mywordpub), a self-publishing consultancy.

Locally and globally, in your community and around the world, it’s possible to create connections and memorable experiences with readers by using fun and interesting ways for them to interact with your book. This only requires a few copies of your book to give away. If the cat scratches the cover, don’t throw it away—use it for one of these nifty, inexpensive opportunities to get others involved in the marketing.

1. BookCrossing.com

Have you ever wondered what parts of the world and whose hands your book has landed in? With BookCrossing you can track your book and its travels. It’s free to register your book and it’s free for those who play. Here’s how it works: After registering, you get a unique BookCrossing ID to place on the inside of your book. When a reader picks up your book and sees the sticker, they are prompted to go to the website and indicate that they have your book. Like throwing a bottle out to sea with a note in it, you get to see who responds and where your book has traveled!

2. Reader’s pass-along

Similar to BookCrossing, a more informal way to connect with readers is to start a reader’s pass-along. First, prep your book by designating a space for readers to write in a sentence or two about what they took away and enjoyed most. Or, you can tuck a one-page insert inside the book for them to fill out. Add a prompt that says, “What did you learn or take away from this book?” Next, leave your book on a bench for someone to find, or even drop it off in a Little Free Library in your community. For every reader who comes across your book, they can list what they learned from your book and pass it on. This is especially great for self-help genres and inspirational books!

3. Little Free Library

Little Free Libraries can be found in most towns and cities. I’ve even seen them in airports. You can leave a copy of your book at a Little Free Library for others to “borrow.” To make it fun, you can also create a treasure hunt by writing a post on Nextdoor, telling people in your geographical area that your book is hidden in a special place and something awaits them inside the book. As an example, if you are a children’s book author, you could offer a $5 gift card to a local ice cream shop. It supports walking, family time, and reading!

4. Doctors’ and dentists’ offices and coffee shops

Who actually looks forward to visiting their doctor’s or dentist’s office? Help lighten the mood for those in the waiting room by leaving a good read for them to browse through! If you are a children’s book author, drop your book off at your local pediatrician’s office or children’s dentist’s office. Books can help distract and keep kids calm during stressful times. Similarly, consider leaving a book at your local coffee shop. Add a note, saying something like, “I hope you pick up this book and enjoy it. After you’ve read it, drop it in another coffee shop, waiting room, or park bench for someone else to enjoy.” It will keep the book fun for readers by tasking them with a mission and connection to the book itself.

5. Local silent auctions and fundraising events

Know of any silent auctions or fundraising events coming up in your town? Ask the organizers if you can donate a signed copy of your book to their event. Make a themed gift basket around the book. For instance, if your book is about travel, you can put little model airplanes and maybe even get the local shoe store to donate a set of sneakers. That increases the value of the total gift, but be sure to leave your book front and center.

For more ways to get readers to interact with your book, check out Jane’s wonderful interview with Amy Stolls, author of The Ninth Wife, where she lends quality advice to authors through her experience working with traditional publishers.

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